Can a Pack Rat Become a Minimalist?

Minimalism is a lifestyle that is catching a lot of attention, and for a good reason!  Minimalists realize what a lot of us miss: that having more stuff doesn’t make you happier.  When you learn to be content with less, you find yourself living a better quality of life.  However, as with any following, there are extremists that tend to define what people think about the concept.  For the purposes of our blog, I will say that minimalists don’t have to live in a tiny house, sleep in on the floor, or eat from the same paper plate for the rest of your life.  In fact, you don’t even have to identify as a minimalist in order to appreciate some of their ideas and adopt some of their practices.  The minimalist concept that seems the most realistically attainable to me– the one that I will use to explain what I am trying to do —  is that you only keep what serves a purpose and/or what brings you joy.

Although this sounds like a good idea, it seems to packrats (myself included) that this is kind of vague.  If I have a thing, then of course it brings me joy!  I have so many memories associated with pretty much everything I own.  I have never been able to get rid of anything, because I feel as though I am betraying the memories they contain.  But then, I read something that changed my perspective and made cutting down on my stuff somewhat easier: “Just because you get rid of an object, doesn’t mean you lose the memory associated with it.”  While certain objects may spark certain memories, I don’t have to have those objects to retain those memories.  I don’t have to keep a purse I bought eleven years ago just because I got it on the same trip as when we adopted my sister.  I still love her, and I don’t need the purse to remember the feeling of finally seeing her for the first time..

With this new mindset, I started the painful process of slimming down my “stuff” collection.  For some things, there is an easy fix.  For some things, there is not.  What I decided to do is start with the easy stuff, with the hope that the thrill of success would create enough momentum to help me make bigger, harder decisions.  This was more of a wild hope than anything… I have never been able to get rid of anything without long internal debates that leave me exhausted and accomplish little.  But the good (and surprising) news is: it’s working!

My greatest fear was that I would get in a groove and get rid of a ton of stuff, then later miss all of it and not be able to replace it.  I have been pleasantly surprised to find that I actually don’t miss things like I thought I would.  I had read many other people say the same thing about cutting down on their stuff, but I guess it’s one of those things you don’t believe until you actually do it yourself.

I am finding that cutting down on the amount of things I own makes my life significantly less stressful.  The fewer things you have, the fewer things there are that can makes a mess.  The less of a mess there is, the less work goes into tidying up the house.  The less tidying there is to do, the less time it takes to sweep, vacuum, mop, or dust.

This has been a lifesaver.  I am not entirely finished purging my entire house, but I love what I’ve accomplished and I can’t wait for the rest of my house to come together!  Is it easy?  Not always.  Is it worth it?  Absolutely.  I am excited to share my tricks and systems with you, and I hope they work just as well for my fellow packrats as they have for me!

I will be posting my process in later blog posts.  Stay tuned!

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